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Poverty & History

In 2010, 15.1% of people in the United States were living in povertyBroken down by race, 26.6% of people of Hispanic origin, 27.4% of African-Americans, 12.% of Asian Americans, and 9.9% of White Americans lived in poverty.  The absolute number, and the proportion, of people living in poverty increased from 2009 to 2010.

The ten counties in the United States with the highest estimated percentage of residents living in poverty, and those counties’ majority population by race, were:

1. Ziebach County, SD – 50.1% poverty rate; 74.9% American Indian and Alaska Native persons

2. Todd County, SD  49.1% poverty rate; 88.1% American Indian and Alaska Native persons

3. Shannon County, SD   47.3% poverty rate; 96.0% American Indian and Alaska Native persons

4. Issaquena County, MS  43.3% poverty rate; 64.4% African-American persons

5.  Humphreys County, MS  42.2% poverty rate; 74.5% African-American persons

6.  Washington County, MS  42.2% poverty rate; 71.3% African-American persons

7. Sioux County, ND  41.3% poverty rate; 84.1% American Indian and Alaska Native persons

8. Holmes County, MS  41.2% poverty rate; 83.4% African-American persons

9.  Corson County, SD  40.9% poverty rate; 67.0% American Indian and Alaska Native persons

10 (tied).  Allendale County, SC  40.4% poverty rate; 64.1% White persons not Hispanic

10 (tied).  Lake County, TN  40.4% poverty rate; 69.1% White persons not Hispanic

(Source:  U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates).

That the two most historically oppressed groups in make up a strong majority of the population in the 9 counties with the highest rates of poverty tends to show that the United States has not provided equal opportunities for its citizens.  As a society, we accept that the slavery and genocide of our past was evil, immoral, and repugnant.  Yet disturbingly, it appears that we also accept their lingering consequences as evidenced by economic and social disparities.


  1. Links – Poverty in the United States | Advocacy Center for Equality and Democracy - March 29, 2012

    [...] is an important idea.  Every person of privilege should ask himself or herself why poverty has persisted in many communities, and why has it grown so much recently.  One should also ask as a person of privilege if s/he [...]